The May 21 election offers Central Oregon voters an opportunity to have a direct impact on their community. Because everything on the ballot is local, every vote will make a difference toward how local agencies run. Local voters will be the ones deciding who sits on school boards and more — including, in Redmond, a decision on a proposed recreation center.

Yet too often, these local-only elections fail to attract very many voters.

There was a dearth of ballots returned as of Wednesday morning. So far, 15.9% of ballots in Jefferson County have been returned, and only 11.62% and 11.46% have been returned in Crook and Deschutes counties, respectively.

This month’s election has something for just about everyone: Voters in Bend, Culver, Madras, Redmond and Sisters all will choose among candidates in school board elections, and all of Deschutes County will elect board members for the countywide library district. In Crook County, two seats on the fire and ambulance district board are contested.

Even where no names appear on the ballot, votes count. Write-in campaigns can fill those vacancies rather than leaving the job of appointing board members up to those whose terms have not yet expired.

As for money measures, there aren’t many this year. Two in Redmond stand out. The Redmond Area Park and Recreation District is asking voters to approve a $40 million bond measure for a new recreation center, including a pool. It also seeks a five-year operating levy to run the center.

With the election less than a week away, it’s too late to mail ballots in. All three counties have information about local ballot collection sites on their county clerks’ websites, however.

Ballots must be turned in by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, to count. If you haven’t voted, there’s still time to do so, and have your say in how a variety of local agencies run.

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